Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Improving Letter and Sound Skills in Struggling Students

Today, we bring you another guest blog post from Greg Smedley. For more from Greg, be sure to check out  his blog !

Hi! It’s Mr. Greg from   Smedley’s Smorgasbord of Kindergarten !

Today I want to share a little about how I’m using the   Letter Buddies   books to help my struggling students improve their letter and beginning sound skills!

These books feature one letter per book with pictures of objects that begin with that letter sound. On the front cover is a tactile letter that students can trace. This is something that I appreciate about these books! I have two students who are struggling to learn their letters, so this tactile experience is key to their success!

I call my student back to my table, and we use the   Letter Buddies   book for the sound that we are working on for that week. For example, this week is “T-riffic   T   Week,” so we pull out the   T   book.

The first thing we do is trace the letter and name the letter. We do this two or three times before we move on to reading.

After we trace the letters, we review the letter sound. We say the sound and make the motion for the sound.

Then we open our book and begin reading. Each page features a picture of an object and the word. I love that these objects are easily recognizable by my students, and not only are we learning to read, but we’re building vocabulary.

The student points to the word and uses the picture to help. We read the word (name the object) and then say the sound of the word. We do this for each page.

At the end of the book is a page with pictures of each object from the book and a picture that doesn’t belong. I do two things with this page: I ask them to point to specific objects and tell me the sound, and I ask them to find the picture that doesn’t make the sound we’re learning.

This routine takes about five minutes per child. I am working with two students, so I can do this in about ten minutes. I have been so impressed with how much this has helped them. Prior to starting this routine, they were struggling to learn any sounds. Now these students have a firm grasp on the sounds that we have used the   Letter Buddies   books to practice with!


My name is Greg Smedley-Warren and yes, I am a bit of a rockstar! I am a male kindergarten teacher! It’s true! We are a rare species, but we do exist! I have been teaching for eight years and I have taught 5 th   grade, 2 nd   grade and kindergarten. My heart is Kindergarten! I believe that every student can succeed and that it’s my job to give them the tools they need. My classroom is full of energy and fun. We are always singing, dancing, moving, and learning. If you were to appear at my classroom door you would see chaos. But it’s really organized chaos. I am famous for my love of all things glitter, all things mustaches, and silly hats! I also write a teaching blog,   Smedley’s Smorgasbord of Kindergarten , which is a peek into my silly and chaotic life as a teacher!

I live in Nashville, TN (Music City USA) with my husband and our Golden Doodle, Butters!


For more information on the   Le tter Buddies   Letter Books , click the image below to download an information sheet.